News / USA

    Apprenticeships Offer Job Security in Uncertain US Economy

    Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Worki
    X
    Aru Pande
    February 04, 2016 12:39 AM
    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Aru Pande

    Just outside Washington, D.C., future electrical workers are stooped over tables in a Lanham, Maryland, classroom — bending and cutting wires as they prepare to install switches.

    Hands-on skills, apprentice Denise Long says, will serve her well when she is out on the job.

    “What they teach you here, if you take it and keep the knowledge and retain it and use it, it will definitely make you a better worker. And also that increases your chance of keeping a job and everything,” Long said.

    The 22-year-old was not sure what she wanted to do until she saw her older brother go through an apprenticeship program and end up with a full-time job as an electrician.

    Denise Long is enrolled in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union's a tuition-free, five-year apprenticeship program outside Washington, D.C.
    Denise Long is enrolled in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union's a tuition-free, five-year apprenticeship program outside Washington, D.C.

    “My brother was in a financial bind before, but it really helped him keep things together,” Long noted. “It gives you a more stable feeling, you look forward to it — actually being stable and saving up that money.”

    The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union runs a tuition-free, five-year apprenticeship program during which students are trained as electrical and telecommunication workers, while earning a paycheck. They spend one day every two weeks in the classroom and the remaining days on the job.

    Anyone can apply for the program and first-year apprentices who have no experience make nearly $20 an hour with benefits.

    Kevin Burton, assistant director of the Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (JATC), says each year, up to 200 graduates enter the workforce with a job that includes health benefits, a pension and, most important of all, job security.

    "College is not necessarily a guarantee for a job," Burton said. "I might go to college and not even pursue the field that my degree is in, which is minimal stability. Here at the Local 26 apprenticeship program, we get to give people a skill that they can do anywhere in the country.”

    Kevin Burton is the assistant director of the Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (JATC).
    Kevin Burton is the assistant director of the Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (JATC).

    Expanding apprenticeships

    Expanding access to such workforce training programs has been an initiative of President Barack Obama, who toured the Lanham training center during a visit in 2010.

    Last year, his administration announced $175 million in grants for 46 public-private partnerships to expand apprenticeships as another path to the American middle class.

    During a September 9, 2014, speech at a community college in Warren, Michigan, Obama announced the new investment, while noting the benefits of such hands-on training.  

    “We want to give workers across America the same chance that you have to get real-world experience that leads directly to a good job. The average starting wage for a worker who’s finished an apprenticeship is now more than $50,000 a year,” the president said.

    During his remarks at Macomb Community College, Obama noted that Britain has 15 times as many apprentices as the United States, on a per capita basis; Germany, 16 times as many. Such opportunities not only make American workers more competitive, he said, but also provide greater financial stability in the long term.

    “Whether it’s through a community college, an apprenticeship program, upgrading your skills pays off. The unemployment rate for those folks are lower, and they’re going to earn more money over their lifetimes,” Obama said.  

    Financial stability

    This stability was a draw for 26-year-old Paul Amancio.

    The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union runs a tuition-free, five-year apprenticeship program outside Washington, D.C.
    The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union runs a tuition-free, five-year apprenticeship program outside Washington, D.C.

    After serving seven years in the Air Force, he was not sure what he would do after retiring from active duty until he enrolled in the JATC apprenticeship program.

    “It can be tough if you are not working on a skill set to apply to the future employer that you plan on going to. It won’t be tough if you actually try and focus on those skill sets,” the young father said during a break from class.

    Amancio and other apprentices at the center are honing what they hope will be lifetime skills that lead to full-time electrical or telecommunications work and long-term financial stability.

    “A lot of major companies started to take away their pension plans, and that really helped me appreciate the pension plans we have here,” Burton said. “Just thinking when I become older — how am I going to take care of myself? I know the answer to that. And there a lot of Americans who can’t say they know the answer to that.”

    You May Like

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora